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Conversation With: The Chats Into the World of These Lads

Photos: Kirsten Thoen

The Chats are an Australian band of quick wit who know how to leave an impression and start a pit. There’s no doubt about that. A field correspondent named Caroline Peacock spent some time with these gentlemen to see what they were up to while at a show in Washington D.C. Together they talked about their U.S. tour, their writing process, and mucking around on the go. – What Youth

“I’m really digging The Chats… They make me feel like I did when I was 16 and heard new stuff”
-my 60-year old dad!

Potty-mouthed, clever, and utterly Australian, The Chats are revving today’s punk scene with a sound they call shed rock. Their massive hit “Smoko” blasted them onto the musical forefront, and between their ripping sound and their cheeky videos, they’ve seen real success and earned fans like Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and Billie Joe Armstrong in the process.

Having just “properly started doing gigs last year,” The Chats have come a long way since their days of “messing around” opening for DJs and performing at parties. With Eamon Sandwith on lead vocals and bass, Josh Price on guitar, and Matt Boggis on drums, the three-piece fires off music that is stripped down and aggressive. This frenetic punk sound has amassed a solid international following; the guys just wrapped their sold-out U.S. Pub Feed tour and are headed for Europe next.

On the cusp of finishing the tour, the guys sat down with me backstage before their show in Washington D.C. and let me experience a few hours of their waggish ways. Alternating between Budweiser (it’s no VB) and Brown Eyes (Coke and vodka), the guys say “drinking is a pre-show ritual,” and they let out plenty of beer burps to prove it. With a website and Instagram entitled “The Chats Love Beer” and the song “VB Anthem” dedicated to their ideal beer– “VB// you’re my drink of choice”–it’s only fitting that their pre- and post-show routine would include booze.

Songs like ‘VB Anthem,’ ‘Pub Feed’ and ‘Bus Money’ clearly demonstrate Eamon’s approach to songwriting. “I kinda just do it…like I notice something or think something’s worth writing a song about,” he said, “I don’t think too much about it.”Josh, on the other hand, says: “I’ll just come up with a one-liner and I’ll have it for ages and ages… and it never really goes anywhere.” But, when his lines do go somewhere, “they are all a bit wrong.”

But that’s the charm. The guys are blunt and unapologetic; they don’t take themselves too seriously. This candidly goony behaviour becomes even clearer in their music videos. Acting as the perfect counterpart to their songs, the videos embody the guys’ punkish, don’t-give-a-shit, just-wanna-have-a-good-time attitude. And while its impossible to mention their videos without paying homage to the infamous ‘Smoko’ video, their ‘Pub Feed’ video is just as much a classic. Showcasing the guys scarfing down pub food and speeding along on a three-person bike, the
“Pub Feed” video is pure comedy, and so, apparently, was the filming of it. Despite the three-person bike making only a brief cameo, Eamon said, “we spent like fucking three hours on that bike, my ass hurt so much.” Between propelling themselves to get the bike moving and synchronizing their pedalling in the process, it took them about ten times to get the final shots, with drivers looking on the scene like “these fucking idiots.”And as if the synchronization and dodging traffic wasn’t difficult enough, the guys made the questionable decision of filming the bike parts post-pub–aka full pub-beer belligerent.

The result is gold. Over the few hours that I spent with The Chats, the conversation strayed to some quintessentially Aussie topics: Steve Irwin, kangaroos, and love for swearing. Eamon calls Steve Irwin’s death “the Australian tragedy” Of eating kangaroo, Matt says it’s “pretty nice.” And of cursing, Josh says some people “feel a bit confronted,” to which Eamon–in true Chats fashion– responds “fuck ‘em.”

Between the three of them, these guys have no shortage of personality. And so, when I think back on this interview, there are certain images of the guys that have stuck with me: Eamon with his self-cut mullet and self-cut denim shorts, Josh sans shirt with a freshly-purchased
leather jacket, and Matt donning tiny glasses and a ten-gallon hat.

But even more than just what they were wearing, it’s what they were doing in their pre-show downtime that really left an impression. Eamon, sarcastically saying “I remember when I had my first beer,” right before knocking over his drink. Josh, sporadically belting out the lyrics to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. Matt, powering through a tour-induced flu with a cup of tea in hand. Like their music, The Chats are quick and confident. They are full of character and wit. They’re here for good times, good laughs, and good music. Eamon sums up their attitude in just one sarcasm-drenched sentence: “We’re making rock ‘n’ roll history, so stay the fuck out of my way!”

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